The Final Goodbye

I had a moment of realisation whilst away and perhaps from my last post, folk might have guessed that I was leading upto this.  It’s obvious now, for me, that this blog has reached the end of its purpose.

Its purpose was mainly cathartic and through it, I connected with many wonderful people who provided me with love, support and advice in their own ways.  There’s absolutely no regret in my mind for starting this, not only for what it provided me but also as a platform for other women (and men), going through life’s difficulties to connect.

The decision to end this blog has happened for a couple of reasons:

I don’t associate myself as a “divorcee” or really feel the need to pigeon hole myself into that little box anymore.  I’d rather describe myself as a slightly mad, fiesty but underneath it all, a warmhearted and wonderful person.

Secondly, whilst I haven’t been particularly bothered about people knowing about my blog, the focus of my writings is changing.  I would rather not talk about certain intimate details with people whom I don’t really involve in my life.  It’s surprised me  over the past few months that there are people reading this blog whom I wouldn’t have thought cared much about what I have to say; if I was to be cynical, perhaps it’s a way of keeping up with some gossip that my life may be providing.

Divorce ignited within me a passion for writing.  I will continue writing on a different platform and for those who aren’t directly linked to me but I have developed a connection with you through this blog, I am happy to share it and keep in touch.  You all know who you are so pop me an email and I will re-connect with you.  For others, whom I don’t really know but have been reading this, I apologise but I am aiming to keep the next blog fairly private from my personal circle so unless we have shared some communications, I won’t be sharing the details.  I hope this is understandable.

Through this blog, I am hoping to setup an initiative with an established women’s helpline to provide further support, whether it be religious or emotional, to Muslim women going through divorce.  One thing that has become clear is that we get lost in the process.  There is a lack of religious guidance out there but more importantly empathy from religious leaders .  This is something, through our helpline, which we hope to change.  Should there be an avenue where we can take this online then we will endeavour to do so and I will update this blog if it happens.

My email account will be active and I am happy to still provide support.  There’s something to be said about the power of an online community.  And to that community; thank you for your amazing support over the years.  Your own experiences and advice helped in more ways than I can ever express.  In return, I hope this blog has been and will continue to be of use to others going through similar situations.

It’s been four years of cataloguing pain, tears and heartache.  I’ll be honest, it’s probably taken me that long to stop feeling so angry.  However I can also see the wonderful opportunities that life has provided me which I would never have experienced otherwise.  Life goes on.  It takes time to find yourself again but once you do, the possibilities are endless.  We may never be the same but that’s not to say that we can’t become better versions of ourselves.

And on that note…..love and hugs.  Goodbye from me.

Balancing the Scales

I’m preparing to embark on another journey, a small one this time but one of the most significant I feel.  Prior to travelling, I met a group, who provided me with some valuable words.  I spoke about my past today, something I haven’t done in a while and whilst I didn’t particularly enjoy it, maybe it was needed.

One of the most important things I have come to realise is that I’m done with reacting.  This is a situation whereby there will always be emotions that run deep.  I may feel that I have conquered hurt, betrayal, abuse however the reality is that it can take something unsuspecting to trigger another emotion lying deeper.  Reacting gives my control away; reacting gives my control to those who held power over me five years ago and whom I have allowed to continue to do so.

So it’s time to forgive and move on.  I’m not talking about my ex – strangely that happened a long time ago.  But to clear the remains of negativity that has followed for so long.

My in-laws for one.  There have been a number of pieces which I have written about my relationship with them.  We live in the same city and we will frequent the same places.  I have a tendency to avoid going anywhere if I know they will be there.  The thoughts of how I would react upon seeing them used to play in my mind.  However they are my past.  They don’t hold any power over me nor me over them.

My ex’s (ex) friends.  A select few have been on the receiving end of my resentment for years.  But that only serves to affect me, not them.  Perhaps somewhere deep down they do care about their actions and carry some remorse.  Maybe they don’t.  I’ve come to realise though that the world is filled with more good than it is bad.  For that reason, I like to think they made an error in judgement and it was never done from some inherently bad place.

So it’s time to move on from these people.  My issues with them are done.  My writings about them are done.  With so many bigger problems around us, my energy and time can be spent on more productive things.  Peace and love.

 

Sound of Silence

Faryal Makdoom’s recent outburst aimed at her in-laws has caused much furore amongst people and has seen a somewhat mixed reaction.  The usual mutterings ofcourse that private family matters should stay private whilst others applaud her for actions that very much go against Pakistani culture.

If true, I can’t say it causes me to raise eyebrows and if true then yes, I applaud her for being brave enough to break the silence that surrounds this issue.  For many of us who married into traditional Pakistani families, to be treated like a second rate citizen is very much part of the package.  When many think of abuse, we don’t particularly associate it with in-laws.  The reality is that there is a sinister control element which exists within our culture that trickles down from generations above.

I’ve had my fair share to say about my ex-inlaws in my blog.  My MIL is probably one of the most difficult people I’ve encountered in my life to date.  I suffered plenty of humiliation at their hands; from my MIL insinuating to people I was upto no good when I was coming home late from the mosque during Ramadan, my father in law telling my ex to kick me out and they would find him another to the magic moment when my MIL walked out of my brother’s wedding, telling everyone she could on the way out that I had shamed her by walking past her.

Yet despite all this, I can now also acknowledge my own failings.  Their actions caused me to become bitter and my bitterness prevented me from interacting with them on a level I should have.  My heart closed to them with each hurt I felt which in turn caused them to hurt me more.  If I could do it all over again, I would change plenty of things.  I can’t but I can learn from it.  Parents are a package deal in marriage (on both sides) so if they don’t want me in their family, I don’t intend to fight to be in it.  I’d rather wait it out for the family that will welcome me with love.

I hid all the difficulties like the good Pakistani daughter in-law I was trying to be.  Despite my MIL not having spoken to me properly for years, when asked how she was, I would give a polite reply to people and feign some benign story about my in-laws.  I was brought up not to air dirty laundry in public.  There were plenty times I would have loved to blast them on facebook and let the world know what God awful people they were but even back then, it seemed to lack class so I sucked it up and got on with it.  Maybe there was a better way Faryal could have spoken about it, maybe she shouldn’t have spoken at all.  Whatever side you’re on, the stark reality is that we do have a problem and there aren’t many people willing to speak up about it.  That in itself is the problem.

Almost but Not Quite

A fair amount happened while I was away but for this post I’ll focus on my man story as I feel keen to share it.  Whilst on my travels last year, I had met someone, let’s call him Tall dude (TD).  We had a few calls but the meetings themselves were limited as we met towards the end of my trip.  Our first proper meet was awkward, infact I didn’t enjoy it.  I didn’t envision round two.  It seems he did and was either being mature about it, thinking first meets are always awful or had simply not felt anything was wrong.  Second meetup was ok.  That’s about as far as I would go, not as easy flowing as our calls had been but not as awful as the meeting the day before.

Despite the meetings being awkward, I felt somewhat connected to him through our earlier conversations.  Infact, I would go as far as to say, he was the first man I had felt connected to since my divorce.  Upon my return, we kept in touch, not regularly but we had the odd skype to catchup on life.  I don’t tend to keep casual male friends so this was unusual for me.  In my heart of heart, I possibly thought something might happen one day and I’m sure he did too which is why we made the effort.

Fast forward a year.  TD and I met whilst I was on my travels, we both knew there was a possibility I could end up in his home country prior to me coming home and it happened.  As far as I was concerned we were both on the same page; getting to know one another in a more serious way for marriage.

I dreaded our first meeting and decided if it was anything like our last ones then I wouldn’t be polite and ditch any suggestions for further meets.  Thankfully it was easy.  Perhaps having spoken on/off for a year meant we had developed a foundation or some sort of friendship that we were able to work off.  Our conversations ranged from intellectual to light and I would say we shared a fair amount in the time we spent together.

We bumped into his brother in law on one of the days and I jokingly mentioned that his family will be talking about the hot girl he was seen with.  He replied that his family knew we were meeting and getting to know each other while I was here.  A few days before I left, he had mentioned his sister was visiting (she lives in a different albeit nearby country) and on the day I was leaving, arranged for us to have lunch with his sister and her husband.  Perhaps I’m rusty at this but to me, it seemed to be going in a somewhat serious direction.   Yet I got to the last day and neither of us had that “where’s this going?” conversation.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for a ring on my finger after this visit.  I was merely looking for a bit of a serious chat as to how we proceed.  Even at this stage, there were things I was uncertain about and had we decided to have the chat, I would have brought it up.

Slightly irked, I moved onto my next destination.  Irked as I had tried to broach things a couple times before I left but could tell he wasn’t for having it.  In our subsequent phone call, I grabbed the bull by the horns.  In his words, his life isn’t where it should be and he never brought anything up as it would force us to make a decision and potentially end the relationship in its entirety which isn’t what he wanted.  I felt it was slightly unfair as I hadn’t been considered in this nor been given any clarity and I said as much.

The time spent wasn’t a waste so the feeling of annoyance never came from that as such.  He was a perfect gentleman the whole time and good company.  Infact it made me realise how much I missed companionship.  My own gut feeling is that his parents’ messy divorce still affects him; he got scared, panicked and backed off.  The flip side could be that he simply decided he wasn’t interested and tried to be polite about it.  Whatever it is, it’s been left in my court to decide whether I want to continue talking, having been made clear that if we do then we talk only as friends as he doesn’t want to give any promises.  I’ve decided to take a step back, maybe still smarting a little that I got a bit excited at having potentially found someone I thought I connected with.

 

 

Full Circle

Each time I travel, I receive new lessons, new energies and new found ways to look at life.  Bizarrely, I ended up sharing an apartment with a women whose situation paralleled that of mine.  Where I had managed to put a label on my ex’s behaviours, she was still struggling…..until we got chatting.  Sociopath, there it was again.  Everything started clicking for my new friend and almost as though she could breathe again, she told me she understood.  It all made sense now.  She purchased a copy of a few books that had helped me on my journey and absorb the behaviours of someone so vastly removed from the basic human emotion of empathy.

I believe there’s a greater reason for why I ended up coming to my new destination.  I’m not talking about just the above situation and if I’m honest, I’m not entirely sure what it is yet.  On one level, I’ve truly come to realise something.  Last year’s travelling wasn’t just a fluke.  It wasn’t a fluke that I made friends easily.  It wasn’t a fluke that I did well by myself.  It wasn’t a fluke that I succeeded.

I’m given slack from time to time back home about getting too involved with people.  Even in my work, it’s not uncommon for me to visit patients if they’re struggling to get out or in cases where they’re terminal.  I get emotionally involved and it’s wrong in our world.  I was almost fooled into thinking it was wrong but it’s really not.  To become emotionally involved opens you up and yes, can quite possibly subject you to a couple of negative things; people taking advantage and/or you getting hurt in the process.

But becoming emotionally involved also opens you up to something wonderful.  It opens you upto friendships.  When you’re in a world far from your own, I truly believe it can create a bond to last a lifetime.  It creates connections that allow people to see you for who you are and through it, I believe I’ve probably been able to help more people than what I would if I remained in a sterile environment of keeping people at arms length.

As I was saying, it’s not a fluke.  It turns out I am good with people, friendships aren’t hard.  Not just friendships people make when they travel because they’re scared to be alone but deep friendships.  My confidence isn’t an issue, I trust my instinct without question.  After talking with my flatmate, I realised something more, my past is firmly where it should be…..in the past.  And I feel more than ready now to embrace my future.

The Art of Femininity

“Men like daft girls, act like a bit of an airhead around him”.  Say what?  That was the advice of a married friend after telling her I had been talking to a man but wasn’t entirely sure where it was going.  I protested that it wasn’t me and surely that’s got to be considered a bit manipulative.  She tried to ease my fears on this: “It’s just what men like”.

I didn’t heed this advice but interestingly it has come up, more than once, from well meaning people.  I’ve been told that I come across too independent to the point that a man will wonder why I need him.  But I don’t understand this.  I really don’t.  Why would I be relying on a man I’m merely getting to know?  Surely he would know that if I’m into him, talking to him, getting to know him that I’m interested in a relationship and once solid then yes, I have no trouble in placing my burdens on the broad shoulders of my man to be.

Be more feminine when you speak to them, another gem.  I half wonder if my friends have bugged my phone, analysed the calls and circled all the things I do wrong.  Even if they did, it’s not like I tuck away a testicle as I talk farts or superchargers with blokes I like…..so what exactly is being feminine?

Throwbacks

Eid Mubarak to one and all.  My own one for a number of reasons; working, recent bereavement of a dear relative and another family member going through difficulties (who is usually the life and soul of the party) made for a somewhat subdued Eid.  I did however enjoy the time with the masses in the evening.

I was writing in my journal this evening, a bit of time to myself.  How much writing do I do?  Blog, odd articles, journal…..!  I love these moments where I can retreat into my own thoughts.  I imagine an empty page, to me, is probably what a canvas looks like to a painter.  My journal is a close friend to me, encapsulating the worst of  my thoughts and the best of them.  I took myself to the beginning this evening and read through a few of the earlier entries in this particular book.  It got me thinking and I decided to include some of the entries into the blog.

The journal is a bit more raw, for some reason, than the blog.  I still can’t help but think…..was that really me?  It’s a powerful reminder of who I was reduced to, to who I am now – one amazingly strong woman in pursuit of life.